Thursday, May 31, 2018

Cornell Family Pictures







A favorite





The iconic Cornell clock tower







Another favorite




We love you, Cornell <3

Thursday, May 3, 2018

People are Good

Our bathtub clogged. 

We spent a few days cleaning the bathtub every night when dirty water backed up our drain into the tub before I told our apartment to send the maintenance guy. He came. That night gravel backed up into our tub. GRAVEL. Ew. We spent a few more days avoiding taking showers at home and bathing Ezra before I emailed again saying something more needed to be done. The roto-rooters were called in. 

They knocked on my door just before Ezra was due to wake up from his nap. Two men, both middle aged. One was short and round, one was tall and sturdy. The short, round man spoke. He introduced the pair and started to chat with me kindly. They were both dirty, covered in sooty-icky-stuff, head-to-toe. They did not smell delightful. They tracked mud through my house. 

After they had been in the house for a few minutes, Ezra woke up. I went back to the bedroom to get him and then brought him into the living room. The tall, sturdy man spoke for the first time. 

"Sorry, what was that?" I said. He repeated himself. "I'm sorry" I said, shaking my head "I didn't catch that." He repeated himself again. He had a couple teeth missing, I noticed. "Im so sorry, one more time" I said, feeling embarrassed that I couldn't understand. He repeated himself another time "Who's that, your son?"

"Oh, yes. This is my son." 

He turned away and they kept working. As they worked, they talked to each other. Have you ever gone to the deep deep south? Have you ever heard a conversation that you knew was in english, but the way of speaking was so foreign to you that it might as well have been a different language all together? I felt a flash of sticking my nose in the air, pride--grateful that I was educated. "Proud" that I didn't smell bad and that when I spoke people could understand me. 

But, the Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn't He? Who would think that the dirty, practically illiterate man, would teach me such a profound lesson. I'm so glad he did.

They finished working and the short, round man spoke to me about the procedure and so forth. He was definitely the "front man" in this operation. Meanwhile, I noticed the tall, sturdy man peeking around my kitchen. "Why is he snooping?" I thought...

It wasn't long until he found what he was looking for--my mini broom and dustpan. He knelt down and began to sweep my floor. The short, round man had walked out the door at this point. The tall, sturdy man placed the dustpan back in the spot he found it, stood and spoke a sentence I understood quite clearly. 

"I wish I could stay and do the dishes, too." Then he nodded his head and walked out my door.

Matt 23:11-12 "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." 

Matt 20: 16 "So the last shall be first, and the first last..."

Matt 7: 1 "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."



Monday, April 23, 2018

Denver and the Baby

I assumed it was time for a life update. 

We are moving to Denver! I am pretty sure there is not a single person, who reads my blog, that does not already know this tidbit of news. For the sake of record keeping, however, there it is. We are excited about this. It is strange because the thought of leaving Ithaca makes us both want to cry. But, the thought of going to Denver makes us yell "COLORADO!!!!" every half hour--quite the dichotomy. 

Now onto the real purpose of this blog: Dime Ezra! 

Ezra is in the absolute most fun stage imaginable right now. I feel the need to knock on wood every time I say this because I don't want to jinx it. He is sleeping well, he is happy always, he is full of energy, he is so darn funny, he is incredibly social, he is chatty, he mimics everything we do, he is communicating so well, the list can go on and on. We genuinely look forward to when he wakes up in the morning and after naps.

He can say: dog, hat, hot, roar, moo, all done, mama, dada, papa, jesus, amen, sock, car, ball and snack. He can sign: prayer, brush teeth, bath time, milk, all done, more, again and please. He can spin in circles faster than I can. He loves to collect pinecones outside. Ezra is 90% joy, energy, curiousness, smarts, giggles, yogurt, and funny expressions. He is 10% squirmy. All 10% of that is at church. I welcome nursery with open arms. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Raising Children in a Social Media World

Technology. Technology and children. Pornography. Social Media. Screen Time. Face to Face Interactions. 



Buzz Words. 

Important buzz words. I cannot begin to number the conversations I have had with friends and family over the past several years about raising children/family life in the modern, technological world. I have sat stewing on FaceTime with siblings and friends discussing and re-discussing HOW, WHEN, WHAT & WHICH. How do you raise a kid amidst all the screens? How do you help them develop a confident self image, a healthy self image? How do you avoid online bullying? When is the right age to give a kid a phone? What type of phone? Which apps are best to set parental locks? Or in other words, what technology best helps parents shield their children from technology? (A bit ironic...) What are appropriate screen time limits? Should teenagers have phones at night or should they be kept in a parent's room?

The questions are endless. I could go on forever. 

Colin Kartchner is a social media celeb. I am not sure what for, but I do know that he is a big influencer, especially among the LDS community. He seems like a great guy, don't get me wrong. He has had a couple big movements recently that have "gone viral" so to say. The first was about authenticity in our social media accounts (reality vs. curation) and the second was about social media use and teenagers. He shared pictures of rather chilling index cards. A teacher in Utah asked the kids in her class to anonymously finish the sentence "What my parents don't know about social media is..." The results were shocking. And scary. And persuasive. Colin's movement now is #BringBackTheFlipPhone or something to that effect. A good guy, trying to find a solution to a tough issue, in the best way he can. 

His post brought back all those questions of how, when, what and which. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO TO SHIELD MY LITTLE SWEET INNOCENT EZRA FROM THE WAYS OF THE WORLD AND ALL THINGS EVIL!? (Sorry to shout.) 

Today, I found the solution or at least a part of it.  

I should start first by saying that, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Morm, yall) I believe in modern revelation. That means, I believe in a living prophet, like Biblical prophets (think Moses, Isaiah, etc), who receive inspiration from God. You might've just thought "Psh, that's weird...and like impossible, right?" but then you stop and think "Wait, but if that's real, that's like the greatest news of all time..." BECAUSE IT IS. But, I digress. Get back to me if you want to know more. 

Anyway, living prophets and apostles. I believe that the apostles and prophets who lead our Church are inspired of God. I believe what they teach us is the BEST way. They are more than just wonderful, educated, hard working men--though they are also those things. They are, or at least should be, if I can make a very cheesy social-media-related pun: the best influencers. Sorry Colin Kartchner. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard says this: 

"A family council, when conducted with love and with Christlike attributes, will counter the impact of modern technology that often distracts us from spending quality time with each other and also tends to bring evil right into our homes." 

Mic drop. It is a paragraph from his talk "Family Councils" that is easily overlooked. It is not a final paragraph. There is not a big lead up to it. It is just kind of there in the middle.

"...there was a time when the walls of our homes provided all the defense we needed against outside intrusions and influences. We locked the doors, closed the windows; we shut the gates; and we felt safe, secure, and protected in our own little refuge from the outside world.
Those days are now gone. The physical walls, doors, fences, and gates of our homes cannot prevent unseen invasion from the Internet, the Wi-Fi, the mobile phones, the networks. They can penetrate our homes with just a few clicks and keystrokes.
Fortunately, the Lord has provided a way to counter the invasion of negative technology that can distract us from spending quality time with each other. He has done this by providing the council system to strengthen, protect, safeguard, and nurture our most precious relationships."

But what. a. promise. Family councils. Read the whole talk, here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/family-councils?lang=eng



Friday, February 16, 2018

ONE

Ezra is:

intelligent
observant
thoughtful (thinks things through)
cautious
affectionate
social
adventurous
happy

Ezra isn't:

shy
gentle
expressive
a performer
fearful
difficult
smiley

Ezra thinks:

hand holding is against his natural human rights to freedom
snow is fascinating
everyone is a friend
smiling is reserved for only those he really cares about and snapchat filters

Ezra is currently improving/learning:

hair pulling shenanigans
that we can bang our hands on tables and toys but not other people
clapping abilities
sleeping (getting better each month)
his listening

Ezra loves:

shoes
being outside
animal crackers
"Cake" by 99 Percent and Flo Rida
exploring
doors
books
watching other kids
cuddling his mama
blankets, towels, any type of fabric, clothes, socks (these are his favorite toys)
putting things around his neck

Ezra dislikes:

getting jammies on after bath time
growing teeth
being barricaded from the kitchen
holding hands

Ezra knows how to:

sign--more, please, prayer, all done/milk (uses the same sign for these), and  eat
be "sooooo big"
spin in circles
run in place
give kisses
give high fives
wave
identify ojos and Jesus
say "hot" (but only when he gets close to the baseboard heater he is not supposed to touch)
dance
say "Jesus" (ssseh-ssseh)

Ezra has:

two teeth
a dimple in his chin
deep blue eyes
our hearts, forever.



















Saturday, February 3, 2018

Spirituality and Motherood

The last several months I have felt spiritually lacking. It did not seem I was having the same spiritual connections and moments that I had had before having Ezra. I was still reading my scriptures. I was still praying. I was still attending the temple (albeit, not as frequently, because #kids). I was still taking the sacrament. I was still trying to serve. But, something was different.

For one of my classes this semester, each week we have to do a "sharpening the saw" activity. Those who have read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People will know what that means. We have to choose a different category: spiritual, physical, mental, etc. and spent 45 minutes sharpening our saw outside of our normal activities. This week, I chose spiritual. 

My "sharpen the saw" lead me to lds.org watching Bible Videos. I chose to watch the "Act of the Apostles." Since I was blessed, several years ago now, to participate in the filming of these videos, they have a special place in my heart. I remember what it felt like to have Peter preach, with tears in his eyes, as he looked into my own (even if he was just an actor.) I remember what it felt like when the man playing Christ walked onto set for the first time. I knew it wasn't real, but you could've fooled my spirit--it FELT real. These feelings resurface each time I watch these videos. I watched the video Stephan's Martyrdom. The last line of the video (Acts 7:60) "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge..." touched my heart. It was powerful; the forgiveness astounding. I felt that deep connection, that spiritual moment, that I thought I had been missing. 

In that moment, the Spirit taught me something: those moment had never left me. They are just different now. 

Before having Ezra, I found moments of spirituality in scripture study, prayer, bible videos, etc. I still find them there, but these activities are so often punctuated by needing to wipe some sort of baby body part. They are interrupted by a cry or a book being dropped at my feet. They are paused to cut up another few bites of chicken and add another spoonful of peas to a highchair tray.

Now they are different. I have those moments of spirituality as I rock my baby to sleep and experience the love of Heavenly Parents through the love I feel for him. I have them as I whisper in Ezra's ear what is happening and why as we take the sacrament in Church. I have them as a friend watches my baby so I can grab laundry from the laundromat and I am reminded of people's goodness. I have them as I watch my husband comfort our son who just fell down and feel gratitude for his gentleness. 

I have them. Every day. They are different, but they are just as significant. 

Maybe, they are the most significant.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

11 Months

Highlights:
-First Christmas
-First New Year
-walking becomes preferred method of transportation
-cut his first tooth!
-loves things that shake and rattle
-started to LOVE reading books
-throws his head back and scrunches his face dramatically when he fake cries
-is most happy when surrounded by people
-almost weaned from nursing
-can do "So big!"

Ezra's first Christmas was so much fun. Holidays are BETTER with children--no ifs, ands, or buts about it! When Ezra woke up in the morning, we directed him towards his stocking. He sat in front of it happily as I pointed to the different textured balls Santa had filled his stocking with. He played with each one for a handful of seconds before moving onto the next. Grandma and Grandpa Brown were here with us. Ezra was so happy to play in the wrapping paper, boxes, and with all his new toys. He sat and read new books with us as they were opened and played with each new toy (three different sets of balls!)









He started teething the week of Christmas. He wanted to be rocked to sleep every nap/bedtime. I was okay with it...for the most part ;) 

Having in-laws in town for several days (Melody and Braxton were also here :) ) meant Ezra got a lot of encouragement in the walking department. On Christmas day, he decided he should just start walking all around. It is so cute to see his tiny body titter-tottering about.






One of the biggest changes this month was Ezra's attention span when it came to reading. This morning (1/4) we sat and read books for over 20 minutes. That's a long time for a not even one year old to sit still and not do anything but turn pages. He does love to turn pages, though! So far, snacks and whispering books quietly in his ear are the only things that keep him still in church.

Several times a day, he totters over to the books shelf and pulls a book (or 12) off the shelf. If I am close by, he will carry it to me and drop it by my feet. He has not yet figured out how to just hand people things, yet. He crawls into my lap, on the ground, and we read a story. Then he stands up, pulls another off the shelf, drops it in front of me, and crawls back into my lap. We start the process over again...and again...and again. Each morning we spend about a half hour reading all the books board books we own (which is only about 15 books).  I often wonder how long he would sit and read if we had endless numbers of books. Luckily we have his whole life to add to our collection!

Genius moment: Ezra is left hand dominant in most things. When reading a book, he turns the pages with his left hand. BUT, when looking at a book backwards, he turns the pages with his right hand. He will switch from left to right with the same page depending on whether he wants to turn it forward or backward. I feel like that means something!!! (*crazy first time parent who thinks their child is a genius smile*) 



This month was a little harder for me in the parenting department while Ezra has been teething. Before this month, any ailment he had I could easily alleviate with a snuggle, hug, snack, etc. It made me feel like Ezra and I just GOT each other. I always knew what he needed. But, when I couldn't help him this month, it left me feeling distant from my sweet baby--like he didn't like me anymore! So, I officially declare teething to be THE WORST. It made my heart so happy when he woke up one morning and was magically back to his normal. It really felt like magic. And by magic, I mean, it felt like a huge blessing from Heavenly Father to this mama who needed some lovin from her tiniest babe.  




It snowed a lot this month. We stayed inside a lot this month. When it finally got warm enough (i.e. it was above 20 degrees haha) we ventured outside and Ezra was so excited to walk around. The first time the snow melted, he sat in a pile of wet soggy leaves and played like he had found treasure. Yesterday while we were waiting for Kyle, I pulled him out of his carseat and let him walk around the sidewalk. He would walk to one side and then stop at the snow and just stare at it for 30-45 seconds, then walk to the other side of the side walk and repeat the snow staring. A great example of his being observant and taking in his surroundings before he makes a choice of what to do. He walked back and forth staring at the snow, for about 10 minutes, before he decided to reach down and touch it. 



I heard Kyle in the bathroom saying "Hi baby!"over and over again. I walked in to find this scene: Ezra finding Kyle in the reflection of the shower....thing? (what is this?)